Christmas in San Sebastian

Christmas in San Sebastian

Written by Leyre Ínigo Lázaro

San Sebastian is beautiful, and during Christmas, even more. Christmas is probably the most special time of the year. This is the time when families come together and celebrate. Christmas is a time of joy, happiness, magic and surprises.

Christmas is different in every corner of the world, and in San Sebastian it is very special. For a few days, the city stops and gets impregnated with the magic and joy of the Christmas time. During these days, the houses and buildings in the city are decorated with lights and Christmas ornaments, people run all over the city to buy presents and gifts, and kids spend hours in toys’ shops to decide what they are going to ask to Olentzero or the "Reyes Magos" or the Three Wise Men. Below we outline some activities you can do in San Sebastian during this special time of the year.


Every year, the 21st of December, the city of San Sebastian becomes a rural market. The most important element of this party is the txistorra, which is a typical Basque chorizo. You will be able to taste txistorra with other typical products from the region, such as cheese, honey and vegetables.

If you are in San Sebastian the 21st of December, you must have a walk along the old part of the city, and you will see the market and be able to celebrate the party of San Tomas.


Every year, in San Sebastian, is set a very big Bethlehem, composed by around 150 figures that height 1 meter each! The Bethlehem is set in the street, and it is an authentic art masterpiece, you cannot miss it.


If you want to buy your gifts for Christmas time in San Sebastian, you will be able to enjoy one of the most special places in the city during this time. Every year, a massive Christmas market is set next to the river, which makes the shopping experience very special thanks to the Christmas lights and decoration, and the special atmosphere around the river.


Olentzero is the equivalent to Santa Claus, a character of the Basque mythology, who was a coal merchant that used to live alone. Every 24th of December, the Olentzero comes from the mountains to announce the birth of Jesus Christ and brings presents to all the kids.

This day, a lot of Olentzeros are put in the streets, and people go out to sing and dance, and kids can ask their wishes to the Olentzero. It is a beautiful tradition full of joy.


There are no Christmas without Christmas carols! Every year, Gipuzkoa Square, in the heart of the city of San Sebastian, becomes the meeting point of every person that wants to join to sing Christmas carols.

Moreover, in Donostia, there are many Christmas concerts during Christmas time, so if you like music, we highly recommend you to go to one of them.


During Christmas time, all the city of San Sebastian is decorated with Christmas lights. We highly recommend you to have a walk around the city and enjoy the lights that are set in the trees, façades and in the streets and parks of the city.


The 6th of January, the Three Wise Men, Melchor, Gaspar and Balthasar, arrive to the Port of San Sebastian by ship, and from there, they begin their parade along the city centre of the city, where they give sweets to all the kids and parade with their pages with all the gifts that they will give to people at night time. It is a magical moment!

The author of this article is Leyre Ínigo Lázaro. She studied a double degree in International Relations and a bachelor in Global Communication at the University Of Comillas in Madrid. Leyre is a very creative and determined person. She always has new projects in mind and love to overcome challenges.